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New study gives hope for spinal cord injury therapy

Among the worst injuries Nevada residents suffer in car accidents are those that affect the spine. Long after bruises, broken bones and cuts have healed, spinal cord injuries can keep people paralyzed. Despite all its advances, modern medicine still struggles to come up with effective treatments for people with serious injuries to their spinal cords.

That said, a recent study provides some hope that some spinal cord injury sufferers - even those whose injuries occurred years before - may one day regain control of their limbs.

The study, reported in the journal Brain, used electrodes that were placed near the spine of patients who had been paralyzed for more than two years. Researchers used the electrodes to stimulate the patients' spinal cords while manipulating their paralyzed limbs. Ordinarily, the brain sends electrical impulses down the spinal cord to control these movements, but in people with spinal cord injuries, the signals can be blocked. Researchers found that by using the electrode therapy, they were able to restore the connections in some patients.

A similar study was published in 2011 in the medical journal Lancet. Researchers consider the new study especially promising because it replicated the results of the earlier study and showed that the therapy can work even for patients who have been paralyzed for more than two years. Previously, researchers thought that after two years, connections cannot be re-established between the brain and the limbs.

Spinal injuries often occur as the result of a car accident. When these injuries are the result of someone else's negligent, the injured may be compensated for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. One category of damages recoverable is future medical expenses. This category refers to the rehabilitative treatment and other expenses that will be necessary to treat the injuries long after the lawsuit is completed.

In cases involving difficult-to-treat, permanent injuries such as those to the spinal cord or brain, future medical expenses can be very important, and very expensive. A Nevada attorney with experience in personal injury cases can help the injured to calculate these and other damages so that they can get the compensation they need.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Electric stimulation offers new hope for 'reawakening' paralyzed limbs," Melissa Healy, April 8, 2014

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